TV Game Show of Converting Atheists?!?

Via Roger Wolsey
on Oct 25, 2011
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“I keep thinking I’ve seen it all…. …I keep being wrong.”


By Daren Butler
ISTANBUL | Fri Jul 3, 2009 8:21am EDT
(Reuters) – What happens when you put a Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk in a room with 10 atheists?

Turkish television station Kanal T hopes the answer is a ratings success as it prepares to launch a gameshow where spiritual guides from the four faiths will seek to convert a group of non-believers.

The prize for converts will be a pilgrimage to a holy site of their chosen religion — Mecca for Muslims, the Vatican for Christians, Jerusalem for Jews and Tibet for Buddhists.

But religious authorities in Muslim but secular Turkey are not amused by the twist on the popular reality game show format and the Religious Affairs Directorate is refusing to provide an imam for the show.

“Doing something like this for the sake of ratings is disrespectful to all religions. Religion should not be a subject for entertainment programs,” High Board of Religious Affairs Chairman Hamza Aktan told state news agency Anatolian after news of the planned program emerged.

The makers of “Penitents Compete” are unrepentant and reject claims that the show, scheduled to begin broadcasting in September, will cheapen religion.

“We are giving the biggest prize in the world, the gift of belief in God,” Kanal T chief executive Seyhan Soylu told Reuters.

“We don’t approve of anyone being an atheist. God is great and it doesn’t matter which religion you believe in. The important thing is to believe,” Soylu said.

The project focuses attention on the issue of religious identity in European Union-candidate Turkey, where rights groups have raised concerns over freedom of religion for non-Muslim minorities.

Detractors of the ruling AK Party government, which is rooted in political Islam but officially secular, accuse it of having a hidden Islamist agenda, a charge it denies.

Some 200 people have so far applied to take part in the show and the 10 contestants will be chosen next month.

A team of theologians will ensure that the atheists are truly non-believers and are not just seeking fame or a free holiday.


This show sounds like holding a debate of the GOP presidential candidates before the audience of The Daily Show. Surreal much.

I wouldn’t be a contestant on such a disgusting show, but if  were somehow forced to play, I’d probably just try to make friends, work on motorcycles, chat about life, look at each other’s family photos, commiserate about our respective challenges in life, and try to be the best person of faith I can be without reeking of it, etc.

….and, maybe, if it truly feels relevant and organic without agenda, I might eventually actually share a bit about my faith life including my times of doubt — but probably only if they ask… It’d take a few weeks or months and the TV producers would run out of patience with me.  As I see it, you can’t argue people into belief in God, however, you might be able to love them to it.  If someone feels love, and actually is loved, and they are loving as well — they know God (whether the believe in Him/Her or not).

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8


p.s. on a related note, But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15  (Notice how believers are instructed not to be aggressive about sharing/imposing their faith, but rather, to respond if asked.)

Wolsey is an ordained United Methodist pastor and the author of Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity



About Roger Wolsey

Roger Wolsey is a free-spirited GenX-er who thinks and feels a lot about God and Jesus. He’s a progressive Christian who identifies with people who consider themselves as being “spiritual but not religious.” He came of age during the “Minneapolis sound” era and enjoyed seeing The Replacements, The Jayhawks, Husker Du, The Wallets, Trip Shakespeare, Prince, and Soul Asylum in concert—leading to strong musical influences to his theology. He earned his Masters of Divinity degree at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO. Roger is an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and he currently serves as the director of the Wesley Foundation campus ministry at C.U. in Boulder, CO. He was married for ten years, divorced in 2005 and now co-parents a delightful 10-year old son. Roger loves live music, hosting house concerts, rock-climbing, yoga, centering prayer, trail-running with his dog Kingdom, dancing, camping, riding his motorcycle, blogging, and playing his trumpet in ska bands and music projects. He's recently written a book Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don't like christianity


11 Responses to “TV Game Show of Converting Atheists?!?”

  1. BrotherRog says:

    comments from my FB page:
    Tim Conard likes this.

    Christopher Lee Eichenauer While I agree, it sounds far more entertaining than watching most of the reality TV we have here lol
    about an hour ago · Like

    Heather Goodman Actually, my FB friend Jim Henderson is the dude that "bought an atheist's soul" on ebay and then wrote a book about the experience. He's now working with producers to create a reality show – he wants to get people from various religions who are out to evangelize others to live in a house together for two weeks. You or others you know would make possibly a great example as a christian on the show:

    Save Me!
    Jim Henderson
    about an hour ago · Like ·

    Roger Wolsey sounds like holding a debate of the GOP presidential candidates before the audience of the Daily Show.
    about an hour ago · Like · 3 people

    Christopher Lee Eichenauer LMAO Rog that was amazing lol thank you
    about an hour ago · Unlike · 1 person

    Tim Conard it just never stops getting wierder out there…
    44 minutes ago · Like

  2. Suri kate says:

    A few of my favorite atheist quotes:
    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. — Edward Gibbon

    Faith means not wanting to know what is true. — Friedrich Nietzsche
    All thinking men are atheists. — Ernest Hemingway

    The most henious and the must cruel crimes of which history has record have been committed under the cover of religion or equally noble motives.
    Mohandas K Gandhi

    You’re basically killing each other to see who’s got the better imaginary friend.
    Richard Jeni

    If we go back to the beginning, we shall find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that fancy, enthusiasm, or deceit adorned them; that weakness worships them; that credulity preserves them and that custom, respect and tyranny support them in order to make the blindness of men serve their own interests. If the ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, the knowledge of nature is calculated to destroy them.
    Baron D’Holbach,

    Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time. Richard Dawkins

  3. Suri kate says:

    Forgot this one …dont know who wrote it though:
    Religion easily has the best bullshit story of all time. Think about it. Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man…living in the sky. Who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you. He loves you and he needs money.


  4. BrotherRog says:

    An evangelical atheist? : )

  5. Suri kate says:


  6. Charles says:

    True… Many atheists are evangelical. They even go to club meetings to share their atheist beliefs. They feel compelled to attack people who believe in order to prove they're smart. The irony is that they don't have all the answers, though they think they do. Isn't that the definition of "belief"?

  7. Suri kate says:

    So if by definition atheism is the disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings , how can it be a belief at the same time?
    Do you believe in dragons? If you dont is that a belief or are you just certain that dragons do not exist?

  8. BrotherRog says:

    because one person's belief is another person's disbelief. you believe that there is no God as firmly as I believe that there is one.

  9. Suri kate says:

    But if god is only a belief thats about all he is …nothing but a belief , an imaginary construct, how is he different from Santaclaus , Thor or any other god?

  10. BrotherRog says:

    To not believe in gravity is nothing but a belief.

  11. BrotherRog says:

    Look, I have no intention to turn this blog into an actual manifestation of this stupid game show. Peace.